Communications Director, Mississippi Center for Justice
Sharon Gray Garrison tries to approach business with the heart of a social servant, and much of her career has championed that philosophy. She currently serves as communications director for the Mississippi Center for Justice, which has offices in Jackson and Biloxi.
“I find that making decisions that are good for business does not have to exclude those that are good for people,” she said. “By strengthening communities and empowering people with self confidence and knowledge, we create a stronger business community that benefits all citizens. Connecting businesses with opportunities to deepen their community engagement is always rewarding.”
In her current position, Garrison develops and implements strategic communication plans to increase public awareness about pro bono legal participation in advocacy and fund development campaigns designed to advance social justice issues in Mississippi. She also mangos agency contracts related to communications projects, manages media relations, writes promotional materials and assists with grant writing as needed.
Prior to this position, she was a communications specialist for the Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station in Port Gibson and communications director for The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, a job that gave her a lot of professional satisfaction. She felt the Partnership was saving lives and building a better future for children in Mississippi.
“There was enormous satisfaction when we received news that youth smoking rates were declining in Mississippi,” she said. “Each year from 2002 to 2007, we received data that proved the impact of our work. It was wonderful to know that a prevention approach to public health problems could work and work well. It was something that had never been tried in a truly comprehensive way before.”
Sandra Murphy Shelson, executive director of The Partnership was pleased to have Garrison on her team. “She is one of the most impressive young women I have ever known,” Shelson said. “Sharon has a commitment to excellence that is exceeded by none and a work ethic that is exemplary.”
Garrison strives to be a good listener, feeling that’s an important ability in a world where people hear a lot of shouting. “People usually just need someone to listen, not to solve their problem or even offer advice, but just to lend an ear,” she said. “I don’t always succeed in using my ears twice as often as I use my mouth, but I try.”
Sandra M. Buckley, director of marketing for the Mississippi Technology Alliance, knows Garrison to be an inspiring and extraordinary young professional. “Sharon consistently strives to make a positive impact in her community and in Mississippi,” she said. “She not only sets the bar high, she sets an example of how using one’s talents and time wisely can make a significant difference in this world.”
Garrison is the daughter of Don and Ruth Gray and credits them with continuing to teach her the value of hard work, patience and persistence. She also looks to Mississippians who are trying to make a difference for the least among us.
“They are selfless, and they understand the importance of breaking down the barriers that trap people in poverty,” she said. “They are leaders such as former Attorney General Mike Moore, Sandra Shelson and Martha Bergmark, president of the Mississippi Center for Justice, who use their talents and skills to make Mississippi a better place for everyone.”
Garrison, who earned a bachelor of arts degree from Mississippi College, likes that she is now working with attorneys and other professionals who use their time and talents to seek equity and justice for those who are often excluded from the process through no fault of their own.
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